StartUpdates: 1000memories Introduces Shoebox App, Animoto Makes Video Creation Easier, HealthTap Taps 5,000 Physicians

10/31/11Follow @wroush

Author’s Note: I’ve got a problem. Because Xconomy is still relatively new to the San Francisco Bay Area, most of the stories I write are about companies we’re covering for the first time. Because there’s an endless supply of new companies, I can never quite empty out my notebooks. But at the same time, there’s a constant stream of news from the companies we have written about; annoyingly, their founders keep innovating! In an attempt to balance things things out, I’m introducing a new type of Xconomy story: StartUpdates, occasional articles reviewing recent developments at companies we’ve featured in the past. Here we go.

1000memories: It’s Not Just Facebook for Dead People

When I first met the 1000memories team in the summer of 2010, they were just finishing the Y Combinator startup incubator program and had recently turned on their website, which was designed as a place for the friends and family members of deceased people to collect photos, remembrances, and other materials. When I checked in with them again in February, they were announcing that they’d cashed a nice $2.5 million Series A check from Greylock Partners and a group of individual investors. They’d also redesigned the “memory pages” where members share photos, and had created an experimental page commemorating protesters killed during the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt last spring.

But now 1000memories has embarked on a more dramatic transition, shifting away from its original emphasis on multimedia-enhanced memorials for the dead and positioning itself as a place to share memories of all kinds. To support that new mission, on Friday the startup introduced an iPhone app called Shoebox that makes it easy for users to digitize and post old photos—the ones stacking up in the classic shoebox in the closet.

It’s still possible to create pages that memorialize loved ones, but now that’s just one use case; now everyone tagged in a photo, whether alive or dead, has their own memory page. Co-founder Rudy Adler says the changes grew out of the company’s observations of its own users. “We found that most of our users are not coming to tell just one person’s stories-they are coming to tell many stories,” Adler says. “The original use case really got people to dig out beautiful content—old letters, old photographs, the stuff in the shoebox, and we were becoming a repository for that.” By refocusing the site on the content itself—and introducing the iPhone app to make it easier to capture and upload this content—”we are making it easier for people to tell multiple stories.”

The new app is simple: it turns an iPhone into a handheld scanner and saves image content directly to the 1000memories site. Users can straighten, rotate, and crop images before uploading them, and add captions and dates. The company points out that the 8-megapixel camera in the iPhone 4S can take pictures at 2448×3264 pixels, which offers the same resolution (or higher) than what you’d get with a commercial scanner. And through a partnership with the Internet Archive, the company says everything users upload to 1000memories gets “backed up and preserved forever.”

“We have always been trying to develop a ‘past tense’ for the Internet, and there is no other photo-sharing site that caters to that,” says Adler. With Facebook about to roll out the new Timeline format for all user profiles, many users may wonder why they should turn to 1000memories rather than their existing social network as a place to store memories, but Adler says he isn’t worried about the competition. “To see Facebook developing a past tense is really interesting, because it validates the direction that we’re going, and it validates the idea that people crave a narrative. And people forget that Facebook was started only seven years ago. I’m 30, and that means 23 years of my life are not there. There is this huge gap, and that’s what we are focused on bringing to the Internet.”

Animoto Simplifies Its Stealth Video Editor

San Francisco- and New York-based Animoto has a clever business model: they let you make super-slick music videos from your home movies and photos without making you struggle with traditional video editing software. The company upgraded its videos to high-definition last spring and pocketed $25 million in new financing in June. More recently, it’s been putting some of its new resources into making the work flow for creating a video even simpler.

Earlier this month Animoto introduced an overhauled project workspace on its website that lets users create new videos in as few as five clicks. All you have to do is … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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